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Age Friendly Bench Initiative in Cork City

Q. What is an Older People’s Council?

A. Older People’s Councils are established in every local authority area of Ireland under the local Age Friendly Programme. They are a vehicle to bring the voice of older people into local government and help to inform private and public service provision.

In each county and city, individuals and older people’s groups are invited to get involved in the wide membership base of an Older People’s Council. An elected executive committee carries out the day-to-day work of the council, supported by the local Age Friendly Programme Manager.

Q. Who do the Older People’s Councils work with?

A. Older People work with their local Age Friendly Alliance  –  they represent the voice of older people in their community

Through these councils, older people are consulted about developments in their county or city, such as the Age Friendly Strategy, the County Development Plan, transport or health services. In this way, organisations can make sure that they are providing an appropriate service to the ageing population.

Examples of recent consultation include work with the Communications Regulator on scam calls, engagement with the National Transport Authority on public transport service changes, and with the Health Service Executive on health and wellbeing initiatives during the pandemic.

Q. What does the Older People’s Council Do?

A. Older People work with their local Age Friendly Alliance  –  they represent the voice of older people in their community

Around the country, Older People’s Council members help to deliver actions under their local Age Friendly County strategy. These include actions like walkability audits of their towns and villages, research pieces, information provision, creative projects, and health and wellbeing initiatives.

Older People’s Councils support the social participation of older people in their community, providing a structure for engagement and helping to broaden the range of activities, initiatives and services that are tailored to older people’s needs in each local area.

Q. Who can join the Older People’s Councils?

A. Everyone – We encourage Older People from all walks of life to join their Older People’s Council and have their voice heard.

Older People’s Councils are designed to represent the authentic voice of older people in the population, with membership drawn from both rural and urban areas, and people from different backgrounds. The mix of people involved on these committees is very important, so that the views of all older people are well represented. Older people from minority backgrounds such as migrant or Traveller communities, the LGBTQ+ community, people living in long term residential care, and people with disabilities engage with Older People’s Councils to ensure that local Age Friendly Strategies reflect their needs.

Members of Local Older People’s Council have an opportunity to join the National Network

National Network of Older People’s Councils – Each of the 31 local Older People’s Councils nominates a representative to the National Network of Older People’s Councils.

It is through this national structure that issues which cannot be resolved locally are fed up to the age friendly shared service and government officials. Recent examples include driver licensing queries, telecommunications billing and ticketing for sports events.

Through these structures, older people across Ireland are helping to shape a future for the country that is age friendly and accommodating of everyone across all stages of the lifecourse. By working alongside partners on the Age Friendly Alliances, older people are supporting the government’s vision of an Age Friendly Ireland.